Choosing to Welcome

In college, I was lucky to have a high metabolism and lived in highly walkable Paris. My dinners┬ámostly consisted of soup, half a baguette, and half a wheel of camembert. While this was tasty and decidedly Parisian (in my mind), I did always look forward to “real” meals.

My friends and I would host dinner parties for each other, but one of my most memorable was given by a young couple at our church. They had two children and were settled in Paris – seemingly light years ahead of my own life experience. They invited some young marrieds, poor college students, single expats and we gathered around their cozy table for a traditional full-coursed meal.

What struck me most about this couple was not the fact that they filled their home with people they didn’t really know, but how they welcomed us all in. I got the times mixed up and showed up an hour early, which I didn’t realize until the other guests arrived. Rather than feeling uncomfortable, the wife poured champagne, curled up on the sofa, and chatted until it was actually time for dinner. During the meal, the husband kept our glasses filled without us knowing and at one point, I looked over to see a naked child out of bed, whispering to his mom, while she kept the conversation going without missing a beat.

Later, I was talking with a friend about how naturally hosting seemed to come to this couple – it seemed so effortless and graceful! He pointed out that they had a lot of practice. By opening their home, they gave themselves opportunity to practice the art of making others feel welcome.

It’s an example I’ve carried with me, years later, and one I hope to achieve: Someone who makes others feel welcome without effort.

Do you have a memorable experience of hospitality? How have others made you feel welcome?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.